One of the tactless features of the Obama administration has been its misuse of the National Security Agency. Characterized in the mid-2000s by its tendency to spy on American citizens sans warrant, the nature of the agency created a chilling and Orwell-esque atmosphere for many citizens. Now the Israeli military feels the same infringement of their privacy.
According to documents leaked by former-National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden, a spy operation also based in England, ironically code-named “Anarchist” has been spying on Israeli air force missions against Syria, Iran and finally Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since – wait for it – 1998. The operation was seated from a base in the Troodos Mountains (near Mount Olympus) the highest known point on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
Why would America spy on Israel? Distrust and paranoia, mainly, related to feelings that there is mutual espionage being conducted between the two countries. But these sentiments are gravely misjudged. Israel insists that there has been no kind of below-the-radar espionage since the case of Jonathan Pollard in the 1980s, who had in any case acted independently.
“We know that the Americans spy on the whole world, and also on us, also on their friends,” said Israeli energy minister, Yuval Steinitz, in a quote to Israel Army Radio, recorded by Reuters. “But still, it is disappointing, inter alia because, going back decades already, we have not spied nor collected intelligence nor hacked encryptions in the United States.”
In operation “Anarchist,” American radar equipment hacked into live video feeds of Israel’s drones and fighter jets, monitoring their military operations in the Gaza Strip. What kind of radar equipment? The same kind of openly available software that is used to access subscribe-only television channels. The operation was even able to capture cockpit footage of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet, tracking an on-the-ground target. Why would America mistrust Israel’s security interests in the Gaza Strip? This is a known breeding ground for terror which threatens the United States as well as Israel. It is the same foolhardy liberal pride, such as that of Hillary Clinton, which urges Israel against ground invasions in Gaza.
The spy agents, also said to be working out of GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) in England, had watched for potential strikes against the Islamic State of Iran, ultimately preventing one when, it would have been warranted, and according to The Intercept, “keeping tabs on the drone technology [which] Israel exports around the world.” This has been disruptive to the sale of drones to Germany by Israel Aerospace Industries, doing minor damage to the Israeli economy and disturbing the friendship alliance between these nations.
Anarchist had accessed plenty of information about the Assad administration in Syria throughout their battle against Sunni insurgents such as the Free Syrian Army and ISIS, and they continue to do this. They have revealed data such as the sale and the usage of drones made in Iran to Assad’s forces in Syria.
Spying on Syria and Iran is one thing. Both countries have been among the world’s chief sponsors of terrorism on the West and on themselves. They have maintained enemy status to both the United States and Great Britain. But it seems downright bizarre to include Israel on this list of espionage targets. Israel has remained America’s greatest ally in the Middle East amidst all of the turmoil in the region. They have maintained military ally status as well with the Britons.
Anarchist suggests that Israel ought not to gather intelligence from Iran about their plutonium enrichment and possible building of nuclear weaponry, as well as their funding of the Hezbollah and other Shia terrorist militias, such as the regime of Bashar al-Assad. This is based on the stale rhetoric that comes from John Kerry and before him Hillary Clinton regarding Israel’s right to attack Iran and gather intelligence about its enemies on its own borders, such as the Golan Heights, Israel’s border with Syria. It shows the kind of unwarranted paranoia which President Obama has unleashed against United States citizens through the National Security Agency, such as access to cellular phone metadata of citizens throughout the world and, most importantly, private U.S. citizens.